A charity warns today that the region’s youngsters are having their life chances “stunted” as new figures revealed the number of young people out of work long-term had risen by more than 300pc since the start of the recession.

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The figures, released today by The Prince’s Trust, showed 2,155 youngsters in Norfolk, including 595 in Norwich, were claiming jobseekers’ allowance for six months or more – a rise of 327pc on August 2008.

The increase sparked warnings from charities that more needed to be done to tackle the youth unemployment crisis.

Norfolk YMCA CEO Tim Sweeting, said: “Young people are having their life chances stunted by not being able to get even the most basic of employment opportunities.

“They find it very difficult to see a positive future for themselves. It has a big impact on their self-esteem.”

But he added that the YMCA had seen some success through projects in Great Yarmouth and Norwich where it teaches youngsters skills for the workplace.

Norfolk’s figure of a 327pc rise was below the rest of the east of England but higher than Suffolk’s.

Chief executive of the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce Caroline Williams said the figures were disappointing but not surprising.

She said: “The Norfolk business community is very aware of the issues relating to our young people and many are making a real effort to review their organisation structure to see whether they could take an apprentice.”

North Norfolk’s Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb said the government was trying to tackle the figure through apprenticeships and the youth contract.

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg put forward the youth contract last year, in which £1bn was put forward to create jobs for youngsters.

But Mr Lamb said Mr Clegg found on his visit to Norfolk last week that many businesses were not aware of the youth contract.

He said: “Clearly there needs to be more done to spread awareness. The figures are obviously enormously concerning. We have to recognise this as a deep-seated problem.”

The Prince’s Trust is holding a live web-streamed youth forum on Wednesday from 2pm to 3pm.

Celebrity ambassadors including Alesha Dixon, Mark Ronson and Tinie Tempah will be sharing their experiences of overcoming difficulties.

The live stream can be viewed at www.princes-trust.org.uk

THE FIGURES

Norwich: 310pc (risen from 145 to 595 jobseekers)

Norfolk: 327pc (risen from 505 to 2,155 jobseekers)

Suffolk: 303pc (risen from 380 to 1,530 jobseekers)

East of England: 337pc (risen from 2,635 to 11,515 jobseekers)

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